Q: I’d love advice on balancing my photography side hustle while working an 8-to-5 job. How do you keep your head in the game? How do you manage your company’s perception of your devotion when you’re (likely) openly marketing your side hustle online?
A: You are not alone. Today, 36% of people in the U.S. “have started or plan to start a side hustle in 2022,” and spend an average of 13.4 hours working on it each week, according to a 2022 Zapier report. While it’s rewarding, it can be a tall order, especially when you add family obligations to the mix.
How to balance work and a side hustle
To keep your side hustle progressing without burning out, I’ve found two practices are essential:
1. Leverage your time.
You’re already stretched thin trying to balance work and your side hustle. Explore systems that could help you earn more money from your photography business without requiring you to invest more time in it, such as selling products online, outsourcing tasks or providing group training on common pain points for your clients. The idea is to escape the time-for-money trade-off with systems that produce revenue you can then reinvest in the business to keep it growing. If your goal is to eventually quit your full-time job, then more money in less time is the path to freedom.
2. Take time off to just think.
This feels counterintuitive when you’re insanely booked and everyone needs something from you. But if you don’t step back, think, consider, plan and evaluate, you won’t move forward. If you can’t take a full day off for a strategy and creative session, then block off three hours one evening. Leave the phone outside the room, grab paper and pen and see what bubbles up. You’ll be surprised at how many answers you already have within you.
When it comes to balancing work with your side hustle, try these steps:
- First, make sure your side hustle is allowed. Some companies have strict policies against them or require you to disclose outside income.
- Talk to your boss. Make sure you have a sit-down to explain your side hustle and show there’s no conflict of interest.
- Treat your job like an investor. Your paycheck is funding your side hustle right now. That’s a big deal if your side hustle is your dream job. So show the 8-to-5 folks the respect an investor deserves by making sure they’re happy with your work.
- Market your passion. As long as you’re focusing, doing the work and showing respect to your full-time job, marketing your passion project shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. But keep talk of your growing business to yourself.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine and has been updated. Photo by FREEPIK2/Shutterstock
Amy Anderson is the former senior editor of SUCCESS magazine, an Emmy Award-winning writer and founder of Anderson Content Consulting. She helps experts, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to discover their truth, write with confidence, and share their stories so they can transform their past into hope for others. Learn more at AmyKAnderson.com and on Facebook.